Joshua Bell

Music Director

With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era, and his restless curiosity, passion, and multi-faceted musical interests are almost unparalleled in the world of classical music.

Named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958, and recently renewed his contract through 2020.  

An exclusive Sony Classical artist, he has recorded more than 40 CDs garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and Echo Klassik awards, and is a recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, as well as the Lumiere Prize for his work in the sphere of Virtual Reality. His discography encompasses much of the major violin repertoire as well as ground-breaking collaborations across multiple musical genres with respected artists from the worlds of Pop (Sting, Josh Groban), Jazz (Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis), Bluegrass (Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck) and Film (including John Corigliano’s Oscar-winning soundtrack, The Red Violin and the Oscar-nominated score to Ladies in Lavender written by Nigel Hess and starring Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith).  

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields’ first release under Bell’s leadership, Beethoven Symphonies No. 4 and 7, debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, and was followed up by the critically acclaimed Bach. In 2016, Sony released Bell’s album For the Love of Brahms with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk, followed in 2017 by the Joshua Bell Classical Collection, a 14 CD set of Bell’s Sony recording highlights from the past 20 years. Bell’s recording of Bruch’s  Scottish Fantasy and G minor concerto with the Academy was released in June 2018.

Convinced of the value of music as a diplomatic and educational tool, Bell participated in President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ first cultural mission to Cuba.  He is also involved in Turnaround Arts, another project implemented by the Committee and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which provides arts education to low-performing elementary and middle schools. 

Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell received his first violin at age 4 and at 12 began studying with Josef Gingold at Indiana University. At 14 Bell began his rise to stardom, performing with Riccardo Muti and the Philhadelphia Orchestra and at 17 made his Carnegie Hall debut and toured Europe for the first time. 

Perhaps the event that helped most to transform his reputation from musicians’ musician to household name was his incognito performance in a Washington, DC subway station in 2007. Ever adventurous, Bell had agreed to participate in the Washington Post story by Gene Weingarten which thoughtfully examined art and context. The story earned Weingarten a Pulitzer Prize and sparked an international firestorm of discussion.  

Bell has received many accolades, including the Dushkin Award from the Music Institute of Chicago in 2016, and honours from the New York Chapter of The Recording Academy, the National Young Arts Foundations, Arts Horizons, Moment Magazine and Seton Hall University. Bell was named ‘Instrumentalist of the Year, 2010’ by Musical America, was honoured by Education Through Music in 2009 and received the Academy of Achievement Award in 2008. He was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 2007 and was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005. 

Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by François Tourte.

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Image credit: Joshua Bell © Robert Ascroft